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[RC] Descanso Almost A Disaster - Don Huston

The ride started at 6am and everybody was moving along smoothly until just past the photographer at 7am. We were on a single track, windy, rocky, technical trail that crossed a creek several times. At the first creek crossing Doug and I came upon a horse tied to a tree, a woman sans helmet, soaking wet, covered in mud, appeared hurt, very upset, saying her horse was down, couldn't get up, very scarry stuff, disaster #1 has struck. I asked where was the horse and she pointed to a man standing in the bushes holding a rein that disappeared into a hole. I got closer and could see one hind hoof waving up in the air, not a good sign. The bushes were 6 feet high, very dense stickery things like a briar patch and I could not see anything of the horse. I started stomping bushes and moving forward. The guy with the rope said I was almost stepping on the horse's head but I saw nothing. I brushed my foot sideways crushing the small dense plants and there was the horse's nose, all cut and bloody sticking up even with my boot at the edge of a narrow deep gully. The horse made a feeble attempt to wiggle free then laid back breathing fast, didn't look good but I had seen worse and tried to assure the woman that we would get her horse out. I reached down and started removing tack, bit, hooked the rein to the halter, martingale, breastcollar, the horse didn't move and was breathing fast and quivering. The guy with the rein was at the rear and above the horse in a good place to keep the horse from kicking me by keeping the rein against the rear hoof so I got down in the gully next to the horse's shoulder. The saddle was mostly out of sight jammed down in the mud and water. The horse was sort of on his left side against a nearly vertical dirt bank, front lower than the rear, all 4 hooves in the air with his back and right side tight against a big 4-5ft dia smooth rock. I could see all of 3 legs and part of a 4th and they looked okay so I figured once the saddle was unhooked the horse would be able to thrash itself free assuming his back was not hurt from hitting that big rock. There was only one place for the horse to go and that was toward the rock and me so I released the offside billet and scrambled out of the gully. The horse didn't move. We poked him a little and slapped him with the rein and he made a feeble attempt then laid back. The lady was really scared now but I told her that her horse just didn't know that he was free yet just wait. Less than a minute later the horse made a move rolling toward the rock and really came alive, thrashing to get his hooves under him and struggled up the bank stopping next to us. We all cheered and the lady's tears changed from worry to joy. I asked the other fella to help me pull out the saddle and it took both of us pulling really hard to get it up out of the mud. It appears that the saddle was what was holding the horse in the gully. My GPS showed that I was there for 26 minutes but it seemed longer. During all this time my buddy Doug rode back a half mile to the highway to find help. He flagged down a crew vehicle going to vet#1 and they got word out and sent a rescue trailer back. We loaded the tack on the horse and the lady walked back to the highway, trailered to the vets and the horse was found to be only bruised and sore.

I'm sorry that I did not get any names (see photos below) but I did get some info on how this wreck came about. Lady #1, the one we helped, was riding with lady #2. Lady #2 was in the lead and her horse made a wild jump over the creek and up into the trees at which point lady #2 bailed off and her horse went crashing cross country with her chasing it on foot. Lady #1's horse got spooked at all the commotion and spun around in the narrow creek crossing, lost its footing, fell in the creek at which point lady #1 comes off getting wet and muddy. Her horse tries to run off but keeps falling into the narrow deep gully that is hidden with bushes, keeps thrashing around and finally drops out of sight with a squeal, her words, not a good sound that squeal. The guy with the rein was already helping when Doug and I got there 2-3 minutes after the wreck and you know the rest. Lady #2 returned to check on her friend just in time to see the horse get out of the gully.

Lady #2
Lady #1
Guy with rein
Doug rode for help
Me before disaster #2

Well you might remember my new motto "To Eat Is To Win" and I'm currently "Undefeated" for dinner but on this ride I came very close to missing my first dinner since 1996. After lunch I was tailing up Middle Peak Fire Road, a crooked, rocky, 2 mile long steady climb of 1100ft which is a 10% average grade. My horse was feeling good and kept trying to trot but I was tired and kept pulling him back to a walk. I should have got on but oh no, I needed the exercise. Probably a half mile from the top during one of the many "horse yanks me into a trot, I pull his head with the rope and say whoa, we continue walking" he yanks me completely off my feet and my grip on his tail turns out to be stronger than my right shoulder joint and disaster #2 has struck. After lots of yelling and ramming my shoulder into my horse's chest my shoulder joint went back in. That could have been a semi-happy ending because I was still able to trot some and we were making good enough time to still finish the ride but of course disaster #3 was coming....I had to pee. I had been riding for about an hour after the initial injury and had taken 2 Alleve and the shoulder was just a deep dull ache so I got off just fine using one arm. I'm right-handed and managed the zipper and other things and was feeling not too bad. I started to get back on, got some mane and reins in the left, reached up and grabbed the cantle with the right, pulled and all hell broke loose. My shoulder popped out in front and looked like it was coming out of my shirt pocket. I was yelling and ramming my shoulder into my horse again but it wasn't working. I don't know what made me try it but I arched my back, looked at the sky, pulled both elbows toward my back and the shoulder went back in the socket. Not only did the pain lessen a lot but all that yelling stopped and my ears quit ringing. Lucky for me my horse and riding buddy Doug did not spook and run off so I found a really big stump, Doug held my horse and I just stepped on. Trotting was not fun anymore and another rider, Ron, whose horse was just not right agreed to walk the last 4 miles into vet3 with me so Doug could continue on. We made the 3:45pm cutoff and of course my horse vetted thru perfect so we got a ROS, S for stupid or shoulder, whatever.

End results, no injured horses, no broken bones, no ambulance ride, I'm still undefeated for dinner even left handed and my Marquis Performance Glueon boots were perfect.

Don Huston
donhuston @ cox .net
SanDiego, Calif


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